Gatekeepers Without a Gate

Alissa Diggs

Let me paint you a picture of young 20 something at her local theater, three hours early to the Solo premier. Bright eyed and full of hope, I waited at the very front  of the line that we started ourselves because no-one else was there. Until the almighty gatekeeper showed up. A whole 5’5 tall, ever ready to to hit on the local geek girl in front of him in line. He commented on my Boba Fett t-shirt, I laughed and smiled. I was trying to be polite, I told him how much I loved Star Wars. A pure wholesome love. A love that spans my whole childhood. The months where all I would watch was the Episode three on repeat(I know, I know. It’s garbage, but pre-teen Alissa was in love with angst-y Anakin, and wanted desperately to be as brave as Padme.) The same love that possessed me to get an x-wing and T.I.E fighter tattooed on the inside of my arm. Tattoos that he commented on. He was very interested in me, and wouldn’t take my less than subtle hints that I didn’t want to flirt with him. The next thing he asked after I proclaimed my love for Star Wars was, “So you’ve read all the books right?”, his face gleaming with smugness. Check and Mate. To his clear pleasure, I shamefully admitted that no, I had not read a single book or comic related to may favorite saga.  

Why do I have to be able to go toe to toe with you about random facts buried in hundreds of books? I can sit in a marvel movie or a Star Wars film and enjoy it for exactly what is in front of me. I cried in Solo because watching Han pilot the Falcon through impossible scenarios brought me such a sense of pure, untainted joy and childhood nostalgia. I didn’t have a ton of lore and baggage from reading the comics skewing my view of the movie. You are so hell bent on protecting your precious characters, you forgot how to just enjoy them.

Gatekeeping is slowly killing fandom. You horde all of this information to yourselves, you make us feel bad for just dabbling in it, and then get angry when we don’t try to learn more. I was just at a movie premiere. I feel deeply uncomfortable in just the comic isle at my local Barnes and Noble, I won't even try to go to comic shop. I’ve become embittered towards the idea of even reading a comic. What's the point? It’ll never be enough. I am thankful that for the most part the men I surround myself with are kind, and willing to explain things to me(and not in a condescending tone). However the strangers, the con goers, and even a few of my “friends”, have a tendency to make me feel inferior because I refuse to make the time and financial investment to qualify as their kind of fan.

You need to do better. If you can relate to the man who honestly aggressively questioned my love of something so he could feel superior, you need to do better. Share your passion! Make people feel included. You are only doing harm, and nobody will like you more because you made them feel bad for liking something. If you see one of your dude bros becoming a gatekeeper, call his ass out. Don’t let him stomp on someone's emotions and attachments. If he refuses to see it as wrong? Drop. Him. Geek Culture has no room for condescending neckbeards. Not in my communities anyway.

Live Long and Prosper, my dudes. Let's be the kind of people our heroes would be proud of.

When she’s not fighting the good fight, Alissa can be found consuming inhuman amounts of coffee, roaming the 901, soaking up the art and atmosphere around her.

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